Surfing In Cornwall Guide 2024

Surfing in Cornwall has been at the heart of the county for years due to the beautiful beaches and delightful surf breaks.

With so much choice we've made surfing in Cornwall easy with this 2024 guide showcasing Cornwall's surf history alongside listing the best Cornish surf breaks!

Surfing In Cornwall - Short Version 

Cornwall, situated in the enchanting southwest of the United Kingdom, is a surfer's paradise with its stunning coastline and vibrant surf culture. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting to catch your first waves, Cornwall has something for everyone. The iconic Fistral Beach in Newquay, often hailed as the surfing capital of the UK, is a must-visit, hosting international surf competitions. 

With numerous surf schools dotting the coast, beginners can easily dive into the exhilarating world of surfing. The surf culture here is not just about the waves; it's a lifestyle, with surf festivals, events, and a tight-knit community that welcomes enthusiasts of all ages.

As you explore Cornwall's diverse surf spots, from the sandy shores to rocky coves, you'll discover a rich surfing experience against the backdrop of this breathtaking region.

Best Beaches For Surfing in Cornwall

  • Sennen: Nestled near Land's End, Sennen Cove offers a stunning backdrop for surfing with waves catering to different abilities.
  • Porthtowan: A Blue Flag beach with consistent waves, Porthtowan is suitable for surfers of various skill levels.
  • Gwithian: With its vast stretch of sand and powerful waves, Gwithian attracts both locals and tourists seeking a challenging surf experience.
  • Perranporth and Penhale: Perranporth's long sandy beach is popular among surfers, and nearby Penhale offers additional surf opportunities.
  • Crantock: Located near Newquay, Crantock provides a quieter surfing experience with good waves and stunning scenery.
  • Newquay: The surfing capital of the UK, Newquay boasts multiple surf spots, including the famous Fistral Beach.
  • Watergate Bay: Known for its wide sandy beach and reliable surf, Watergate Bay is a favorite among surf enthusiasts.
  • Trevone: A picturesque bay with both sandy and rocky areas, Trevone offers diverse surf conditions.
  • Polzeath: A renowned surf destination, Polzeath is great for beginners and experienced surfers alike, featuring consistent waves.
  • Bude: This coastal town has multiple surf spots, each with its own unique characteristics, attracting surfers of all levels.
  • Praa Sands: A beautiful sandy beach with good waves, Praa Sands is popular among both locals and visitors.
  • Falmouth: With various beaches in the area, Falmouth provides diverse surf conditions suitable for different skill levels.
  • Marazion: Known for its scenic views of St. Michael's Mount, Marazion offers a more relaxed surf experience.
surfing in cornwall
Polzeth, a beautiful beach for surfing in Cornwall

Where is Cornwall? 

Cornwall is a county located in the southwest of England, United Kingdom. It is surrounded by the Celtic Sea to the north, the English Channel to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Cornwall is known for its picturesque landscapes, rugged coastline, and charming seaside villages. The county is easily accessible by road, and its southern border is demarcated by the River Tamar, which separates Cornwall from the neighbouring county of Devon.

Surf Spots In Cornwall 

In North Cornwall, surfers encounter a more dynamic and exposed coastline, characterised by powerful Atlantic swells. The north-facing beaches, such as Fistral in Newquay, often receive consistent and larger waves, providing an exhilarating experience for surf enthusiasts. On the other hand, South Cornwall, sheltered by its geographical orientation, experiences milder swells and generally calmer conditions, making spots like Praa Sands and Porthcurno ideal for beginners or those seeking a more relaxed surfing environment.

Let's Start With North Cornwall Beaches!

Sennen Cove

Surfing in Cornwall reaches its pinnacle at Sennen Cove, located near the iconic Land's End. The expansive sandy beach and powerful waves create an ideal setting for surfers of all levels. With the rugged coastline serving as a breathtaking backdrop, surfing in Sennen Cove provides an authentic Cornish experience, where enthusiasts can ride the waves against the stunning Land's End scenery.


For those seeking a Blue Flag beach experience, surfing in Cornwall wouldn't be complete without a visit to Porthtowan. This sandy haven boasts consistent waves, making it suitable for surfers with varying skill levels. Porthtowan's inviting atmosphere and reliable surf conditions make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the exhilarating world of Cornwall's surfing culture.


Gwithian, with its vast stretch of golden sand and powerful waves, stands as a testament to the thrilling adventure of surfing in Cornwall. As surfers take to the water, the Atlantic rollers provide an exciting challenge against the backdrop of this stunning coastal location. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice seeking excitement, Gwithian's surf scene offers an unforgettable experience in the heart of Cornwall's surf culture.


Perranporth, with its long sandy beach, beckons surfers to embrace the essence of Cornwall's coastal charm. As the waves roll in, surfers of all ages and abilities can partake in the joy of surfing against the picturesque setting.


Nestled near Newquay, Crantock offers a quieter escape while still capturing the essence of surfing in Cornwall. The surf conditions here, combined with the beauty of the coastal surroundings, create a tranquil yet invigorating atmosphere. Surfers can enjoy the thrill of the waves in a more serene setting, highlighting the diversity that Cornwall's surf spots have to offer.


Renowned as the surfing capital of the UK, Newquay is at the heart of Cornwall's vibrant surf culture. With multiple surf spots, including the world-famous Fistral Beach, surfing in Newquay caters to all levels of expertise. The town's energetic atmosphere, surf festivals, and bustling surf community make it a central hub for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the exhilarating experience of surfing in Cornwall.

Watergate Bay

Embracing the spirit of surfing in Cornwall, Watergate Bay stands out with its wide sandy beach and consistent surf. Surfers here can enjoy the thrill of riding the waves against a backdrop of stunning cliffs and panoramic views. Whether you're a beginner honing your skills or an experienced rider seeking reliable surf, Watergate Bay adds another dimension to the diverse surf offerings along Cornwall's captivating coastline.


Trevone, with its picturesque bay featuring both sandy and rocky areas, offers a unique surfing experience in Cornwall. The diverse surf conditions make it an attractive spot for surfers looking to explore different aspects of the sport. The scenic beauty surrounding Trevone enhances the overall appeal, providing a harmonious blend of nature and surfing in Cornwall.


No exploration of surfing in Cornwall is complete without a visit to Polzeath, a renowned surf destination catering to both beginners and seasoned surfers. With consistent waves and a vibrant surf scene, Polzeath is a hub for those looking to embrace the surfing lifestyle. The sandy shores and surf schools contribute to the welcoming atmosphere, making Polzeath an essential stop for anyone eager to dive into the exhilarating world of Cornwall's surf culture.


Bude, a coastal town in Cornwall, offers a multifaceted surfing experience with multiple surf spots to explore. Each spot presents its own unique characteristics, making Bude a versatile destination for surfers of all levels. The town's commitment to preserving its natural beauty adds to the overall appeal, creating a harmonious balance between surfing excitement and environmental appreciation in the heart of Cornwall.

Now For The South Cornwall Beaches!

Praa Sands

Situated along Cornwall's coastline, Praa Sands beckons surfers with its beautiful sandy beach and good waves. Surfing in Praa Sands is a delightful experience for both locals and visitors, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and exhilarating surf conditions. Praa Sands stands as a testament to Cornwall's diverse surf offerings, providing a welcoming environment for surfers to enjoy the thrill of the waves against the backdrop of the Cornish coast.


Falmouth, with its various beaches, contributes to the dynamic surf scene in Cornwall. Surfing in Falmouth provides diverse conditions suitable for surfers of different skill levels. The town's maritime charm adds a unique flavor to the overall surfing experience, making Falmouth an attractive destination for those seeking a combination of great waves and coastal ambiance along the shores of Cornwall.


Marazion, with its scenic views of St. Michael's Mount, offers a more relaxed setting for surfing in Cornwall. The gentle waves and charming surroundings create an inviting atmosphere, making Marazion an ideal spot for those looking to enjoy the pleasures of surfing in a more tranquil environment. As surfers embrace the waves, Marazion adds a touch of serenity to the diverse surf landscape of Cornwall.

When To Go Surfing in Cornwall

The prime time for surfing in Cornwall is from late summer to early autumn (September to October), when the water is relatively warmer, and consistent swells create ideal conditions for surfers of all levels.

Cornwall Surf Season

  • Spring (April-early June): Spring brings milder temperatures, and although the water is still cool, surfers can enjoy quieter beaches and more manageable waves.
  • Summer (July & August): Summer offers warmer water temperatures and a bustling surf scene. Beginners can take advantage of smaller waves, while experienced surfers can explore the varied breaks along the coast.
  • Autumn (September & October): Autumn is considered prime surf season in Cornwall. The water remains relatively warm, and consistent swells create excellent conditions, attracting surfers seeking more challenging waves.
  • Winter (November-March): Winter brings colder temperatures and larger swells, catering to experienced surfers looking for more powerful and challenging waves. Wetsuits are essential during this season.

Surf Shops In Cornwall

Ann's Cottage

  • Locations: Polzeath, Wadebridge, Truro, and other locations.
  • Highlights: Ann's Cottage is one of the largest surf retailers in the UK, providing a wide range of surf gear, fashion, and accessories.

Surfing Life

  • Location: Newquay.
  • Highlights: Located in the surfing hub of Newquay, Surfing Life offers a selection of surfboards, wetsuits, and surf fashion, catering to surfers of all levels.

Down The Line Surf Company

  • Location: Hayle.
  • Highlights: A specialized surf shop, Down The Line Surf Company is known for its extensive range of surfboards, wetsuits, and accessories, with a focus on performance and quality.

Little Westcountry

  • Location: St Agnes.
  • Highlights: Situated in the picturesque village of St Agnes, Little Westcountry offers a curated selection of surf and lifestyle products, reflecting the local surf culture.

Gulfstream Surfboards

  • Location: Newquay.
  • Highlights: Gulfstream Surfboards is a local surfboard manufacturer and shop, providing custom-made boards and a selection of other surf-related products.


  • Location: Polzeath.
  • Highlights: Tubestation is not only a surf shop but also a vibrant community hub, offering a range of surf gear, clothing, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Rip Curl Store

  • Location: Newquay.
  • Highlights: As a globally recognized brand, the Rip Curl Store in Newquay provides a variety of surf and lifestyle products, including wetsuits, clothing, and accessories.

Harlyn Surf School & Shop

  • Location: Padstow.
  • Highlights: Harlyn Surf School & Shop in Padstow offers a range of surf equipment, wetsuits, and accessories, along with surf lessons for all ages and abilities.

Perranporth Surf School & Shop

  • Location: Perranporth.
  • Highlights: Located in the popular surf destination of Perranporth, this surf shop offers a selection of surf gear and equipment, as well as surf lessons for those looking to hit the waves.

Surfing In Cornwall For Beginners

1. Choose Beginner-Friendly Beaches

  • Polzeath: Known for its consistent, mellow waves and sandy beach, Polzeath is a popular spot for beginners. Several surf schools operate here, offering lessons and equipment rental.
  • Perranporth: With its long sandy beach, Perranporth provides ample space for beginners to practise. The surf schools in the area cater to different skill levels.
  • Harlyn Bay: This family-friendly beach is known for its sheltered cove and smaller waves, making it an ideal spot for those new to surfing.

2. Take Surf Lessons

  • Enroll in a surf lesson with a reputable surf school. Experienced instructors can provide valuable guidance on safety, proper technique, and help build confidence in the water.
  • Many beaches have surf schools that offer group or private lessons, ensuring a personalised learning experience for beginners.

3. Rent Suitable Equipment

  • Opt for a soft-top surfboard, which provides better stability for beginners. Wetsuits are essential, even in the warmer months, to keep you comfortable in the Cornish waters.
  • Most surf schools and shops offer equipment rental, allowing you to try different boards and find what suits you best.

4. Be Mindful of Safety

  • Pay attention to local surf conditions and weather forecasts. Cornwall's weather can be changeable, so it's crucial to be aware of any potential challenges.
  • Always surf in designated areas, follow local rules, and be respectful of other surfers in the water.

5. Start on Small Waves

  • Begin your surfing journey on smaller, rolling waves. These conditions are more forgiving and provide a safe environment for practising your skills.
  • As you gain confidence and experience, you can gradually progress to more challenging waves.

6. Embrace the Surf Culture

  • Immerse yourself in Cornwall's surf culture by attending surf festivals, events, and connecting with the local surf community. This will enhance your overall experience and help you feel more integrated into the vibrant surf scene.

7. Explore Surf-Friendly Towns

  • Stay in surf-friendly towns like Newquay, which is not only a fantastic surf destination but also offers a lively atmosphere and various amenities catering to surfers.
  • Take advantage of the surf shops, cafes, and beachfront accommodations that cater to the needs of those enjoying the waves.

Surf Schools In Cornwall

  1. Fistral Beach Surf School (Newquay)
  2. Polzeath Surf School
  3. Harlyn Surf School (Padstow)
  4. Perranporth Surf School
  5. Newquay Activity Centre
  6. Surfing Life (Newquay)
  7. Smart Surf School (Whitsand Bay)
  8. Shore Surf School (Perranporth)
  9. Global Boarders Surf Co. (Newquay)
  10. St Ives Surf School

Cornwall Surfing History 

Cornwall has had a lengthy and prosperous past with surfing. While it may not be as renowned as other surfing hotspots such as Hawaii and California, Cornwall has had a huge influence in the evolution of modern surfing in the UK. The activity was first brought to Cornwall in the 1920s by American and Australian lifeguards in the region. But, it wasn't until the 1960s that surfing really started becoming popular in the UK. This was, to an extent, because of the fame of the sport in California, which was made visible to a broader public by the music and culture of the time.

Going back to the early 1960's a group of surfers from Newquay, attempted to ride the waves on wooden boards. This included Roger Mansfield, Johnny McElroy, and Bob Head, who were soon accompanied by other enthusiasts from different places. They founded the British Surfing Association (BSA) in 1966, which was instrumental in advancing and controlling the sport. In the 1970s, Cornwall turned into the centre of

UK surfing, with Newquay and other towns on the north shore of the region drawing in surfers from various areas and abroad. The growth of the surf industry in the area also led to the hosting of surfing competitions, with events like the Newquay Surf Championships bringing in global skill.

Cornwall Famous Surfers

  1. Mike Hargreaves is a renowned surfer who has been riding the waves since the 1960s. He was a major contributor in introducing surfing to the United Kingdom and promoting the activity in Cornwall. The Trevella family is another well-known surfing dynasty in the region. 
  2. Dave Trevella was among the first to take up the sport in the 1960s, and his son Dan is an established professional surfer who has taken part in various international competitions.
  3. Russell Winter. He is a professional surfer from Newquay who is known for having won the European Surfing Championship twice, as well as being the first European who qualified for the World Championship Tour. 
  4. Ben Skinner, who has achieved two European Longboard Championship titles and seven British Longboard Championship titles. 
  5. Sophie Hellyer, a professional surfer and writer from Cornwall, is also well-known for her efforts in promoting women's surfing and writing about the sport and the environment for various publications.

Thanks to these and other famous UK surfers, Cornwall has become one of the top surfing destinations in the UK and even across the globe.

Summing It Up: What To Do Now

Now you have everything you need for surfing in Cornwall it's time to book the trip!

If your interested in learning more about surfing discover our many guides that will inform you on your surfing journey. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook & Instagram to stay informed on our amazing surf shots and stories shared from surf creators around the world!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Cornwall have good surfing?

Absolutely, surfing in Cornwall is exceptional. The region is renowned for its diverse coastline, providing an array of surf spots suitable for all skill levels. Cornwall stands out as a prime destination, offering excellent conditions for surfers to catch some waves and immerse themselves in the vibrant surf culture.

What is the surfing capital of Cornwall?

Newquay proudly holds the title of the surfing capital of Cornwall. This lively town on the north coast is synonymous with surfing culture, offering a plethora of surf spots suitable for all levels of expertise. Newquay is a hub for surfing events and competitions, making it a must-visit destination for anyone passionate about surfing in Cornwall.

Do you need a wetsuit to surf in Cornwall?

Yes, wearing a wetsuit is imperative for surfing in Cornwall. The region's coastal waters can be chilly even in the warmer months. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced surfer, donning a wetsuit is a crucial aspect of enjoying the waves while surfing in Cornwall, ensuring comfort and safety in the dynamic Atlantic conditions.

What time of year to surf in Cornwall?

The best time for surfing in Cornwall is from late summer to early autumn, specifically from September to October. During this period, surfing enthusiasts can experience the epitome of surfing in Cornwall, with warmer waters and consistent swells creating ideal conditions for an exhilarating surfing experience.

Is Devon or Cornwall better for surfing?

Both Devon and Cornwall offer fantastic opportunities for surfing. However, when it comes to the quintessential surfing experience, Cornwall takes the spotlight. Surfing in Cornwall is characterised by a vibrant surf community, diverse surf spots, and a rich coastal culture, making it an ideal choice for those seeking an immersive and exhilarating surfing adventure.

Which side of Cornwall is best for surfing?

Both the north and south coasts of Cornwall offer incredible opportunities for surfing. Whether you prefer the powerful Atlantic swells on the north coast or the more sheltered conditions on the south coast, surfing in Cornwall provides a diverse range of experiences. Popular surf spots are scattered across both sides, showcasing the region's versatility for surfers of different skill levels.

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